Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with the heads of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) parties in an attempt to find a solution the political crisis that has broken out over legislation exempting yeshiva students from military service. From the statement sent to reporters after the meeting it was not possible to conclude whether or not a solution had been found.
While the prime minister continues to declare publicly that he wishes to carry on with the present government until its legal term ends in November 2019, the press release states that he expects Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and his Kulanu party to vote in favor of the legislation on conscription that will be agreed on in all three Knesset readings. The press release also states that Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman will be asked to make a public commitment enabling the bill to pass, that is, at least not to vote against it.
Netanyahu's statement drives Liberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu into a corner. The recruitment bill that the haredim are demanding is unacceptable to both parties. The underlying meaning of the statement from the Prime Minister's Bureau is therefore that the break-up of the government and new elections are closer than ever.
Moreover, late last night Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked announced that a meeting of the ministerial legislation committee due to have taken place this morning would be postponed till Monday, in order to try to reach an agreed draft of the conscription bill.
All sides of the current political embroilment are aware of the fact that the conscription bill is not the real reason for the crisis. The bill does not have to pass three readings before August, while the 2019 state budget, which is due to be voted on in the next few days, does not have to pass second and third readings before December 2018.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 11, 2018
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